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Fede Alvarez
Jane Levy, Stephen Lang, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto
Writing Credits:
Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues

Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn't as helpless as he seems.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$26,411,706 on 3,051 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Thai Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

88 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 11/29/2016

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Fede Alvarez, Writer Rodo Sayagues and Actor Stephen Lang
• “No Escape” Featurette
• “Man in the Dark” Featurette
• “Meet the Cast” Featurette
• “Creating the Creepy House” Featurette
• “The Sounds of Horror” Featurette
• 8 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Don't Breathe [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 27, 2016)

This I know to be true: low-budget horror films can provide a license to print cash. Maybe not a ton of money, as these flicks almost never shoot far north of the $100 million plateau, but with their small budgets, they often turn sizable profits.

Case in point: 2016’s Don’t Breathe. Made for less than $10 million, the flick raked in more than $150 million worldwide, numbers that make it profitable by even the weaseliest Hollywood definition.

Rocky (Jane Levy) seeks to leave behind her seedy life and make a better existence for her younger sister Diddy (Emma Bercovici). This requires funds Rocky lacks, though.

To that end, Rocky commits a string of robberies along with her boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto) and their pal Alex (Dylan Minnette). These lead toward one big score when they learn of a man (Stephen Lang) who took in a large sum of money after the accidental death of his daughter.

One factor makes this sound easy: the wealthy man lacks the sense of sight. Into his house the three burglars go, but their simple robbery becomes more complex when it turns out that the blind man boasts hidden strengths.

Director Fede Alvarez made his English-language debut with 2013’s Evil Dead remake, and that film showed his talents well. Alvarez’s Evil Dead offered a good reimagining of the 1982 Sam Raimi classic and succeeded in its own right.

Though not without merits, Breathe proves to be a mild disappointment after the effective Evil Dead. Touted as a horror movie, that genre doesn’t really fit Breathe. While it offers jolts, these come from a scenario much more in the thriller vein, as it connects more to pulse-pounders like Panic Room and Green Room than to traditional scarefests.

My biggest issue with Breathe stems less from genre confusion and more from its unsympathetic characters. In a standard movie of this sort, the Blind Man would offer a villain while Rocky and her pals would become his oppressed targets.

My desire to avoid spoilers means I can’t elaborate, but Breathe does nod in this direction somewhat. The Blind Man turns out to be more than just a lonely victim, and the story tries to justify why Rocky and Alex commit crimes. (Money remains in it just for cash and thrills.)

Unfortunately, these machinations never really work. Even when a plot twist gives the Blind Man a darker vibe, this still doesn’t make us care about Rocky and Alex.

Let’s face it: window-dressing aside, they’re still crooks who try to take advantage of someone they believe to be a helpless handicapped person. It becomes really difficult to get past these factors and invest in their fates.

Perhaps if Breathe had maintained our view of the Blind Man as an innocent victim, it could’ve avoided these pitfalls. I could see a successful movie built around a semi-Panic Room vibe with a twist given its focus on the “bad guys”.

But the movie’s lack of moral clarity harms it. That seems counterintuitive, as I feel like I should applaud the film’s lack of clear good/evil characters.

And in some other tale, the moral ambivalence might work. It doesn’t succeed here, though, because that kind of murkiness just doesn’t suit the story. A thriller such as this requires the viewer to care who lives or dies – we don’t, so the movie lacks the needed emotional charge.

Breathe also suffers from a slew of plot holes and contrivances. The movie needs to work overtime to find reasons to keep Rocky and company stuck inside the Blind Man’s small house, and these fail to convince. It forces us to swallow too many improbable circumstances.

Breathe does manage some tension and jolts, and if you can suspend disbelief, you’ll probably like it more than I do. I simply feel the filmmaking flaws make the end result less impactful than I’d expect and leave this as an inconsistent thriller.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Don’t Breathe appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer presented the film in an appealing manner.

Sharpness looked good. A smidgen of softness hit some wider shots, but those instances remained quite insubstantial, so the majority of the flick showed fine clarity and accuracy. Jaggies and shimmering failed to distract, and edge haloes remained absent. The movie also lacked any source flaws and was consistently clean.

In terms of colors, Breathe went with standard orange and teal. The hues never stood out as memorable, but they were fine for this story’s choices. Blacks were pretty deep, and shadows were well-depicted – an important factor given the potentially murky interior settings. The image offered a “B+” presentation.

As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it lacked a ton of ambition, though I didn’t view that as a flaw. A story like this came heavy on ambience and light on opportunities for fireworks, so the absence of showy sequences failed to become a problem.

When the action heated up, however, the mix reflected that and used the spectrum well. Music filled the various channels in a satisfying manner, and effects fleshed out the spectrum in a logical way. Nothing dazzled but the mix seemed suitable for the material.

Audio quality pleased. Speech was concise and natural, while effects remained accurate and full-bodied. Music was vibrant and dynamic. While this was never a memorable track, it worked for the story.

The disc comes with a mix of extras, and we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Fede Alvarez, writer Rodo Sayagues and actor Stephen Lang. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, sets and locations, music and camerawork, cast and performances, and related topics.

Expect a fairly average commentary. While we get a reasonable look at the film's creation, the track never becomes better than "pretty good". Lang's insights fare best of the bunch, but this remains a chat without lots of zing to it.

Five short featurettes follow. We get “No Escape” (2:56), “Man in the Dark” (3:17). “Meet the Cast” (4:04), “Creating the Creepy House” (3:51) and “The Sounds of Horror” (1:49). Across these, we hear from Alvarez, Sayagues, Lang, cinematographer Pedro Luque, production designer Naaman Marshall, composer Roque Banos, and actors Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovatto.

The segments look at visual design and photography, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, and music. The featurettes offer more detail than one might expect from such brief clips – but not a lot more, so don’t expect much depth. Oh, and they come with serious spoilers, so avoid them if you’ve not watched the movie.

Eight Deleted Scenes fill a total of 15 minutes, 17 seconds. In these, we see extended character beats, particularly those that expand Alex and the Blind Man. Some of these work pretty well – they probably would’ve slowed the film’s pacing, but they add useful material.

We can view the scenes with or without commentary from Alvarez. He gives us background for the sequences and tells us why they got cut. Alvarez contributes nice insight.

The disc opens with ads for Edge of Winter, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, Money Monster, When the Bough Breaks, The Bronze and The Shallows. No trailer for Breathe appears here.

Despite occasional tense moments, Don’t Breathe fails to match expectations due to problematic character and plot choices. While these don’t make it a bad film, it lacks the punch I hoped to find. The Blu-ray brings us very good picture along with solid audio and a reasonable set of bonus materials. Breathe musters a few tense sequences but doesn’t connect as frequently as it should.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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